High Roller Tournaments Taking Over International Poker Circuit

High roller
The 2013 WSOP APAC $50k High Roller

In the last couple years the super high roller concept that Crown Casino helped pioneer has taken over the live tournament scene.

High rollers used to be considered anything in the $15,000 range but now it’s considered unusual if a major tournament series doesn’t offer at least one tournament that’s $50k or bigger. 

Crown Casino got the ball rolling at the Aussie Millions with the first ever $100,000 buy-in tournament in 2006 but that figure has since been eclipsed by the record-breaking $1 million buy-in tournament that occurred this summer at the WSOP in Vegas.

WSOP Asia-Pacific organizers decided to offer a $50k high roller and, as usual, over 30 entrants combined to create a prizepool that rivals the Main Event.

“They are really exciting,” explained Jason Koon while on break from the $50k.

“I think it’s something fans want to see. The sheer amount of money gives high rollers a prestigious feel.”

Every major tournament series offers super high roller tournaments including the World Series of Poker, the European Poker Tour and the World Poker Tour.

Koon has played around 10 tournaments where the buy-in was $25k and played in his first $100k at the PCA this year.

More and More Pros Stepping Up to the High Roller Plate

Jason Koon
Jason Koon

Poker icons like Phil Ivey, Sam Trickett and Antonio Esfandiari are expected to play the massive tournaments but more and more up-and-coming pros like Koon are taking shots.

“I mean $50k is still a huge buy-in to me but you get used to it after awhile,” he said.

Koon went on to say that super high rollers represent the very reason he decided to get into poker in the first place.

“For me the joy of poker comes from playing very tough competition for large amounts of money,” he said.

“That’s why I play the game. I didn’t start playing poker to grind out $11 rebuys my whole life.”

While pros love the quick shot at big money the effect of the wealthy businessmen Richard Yong, Winfred Yu and Paul Phua can’t be underestimated either.

It’s questionable if the high buy-in events would even run without participation from that group.

“[Super high roller] tournaments are still kind of an exclusive thing,” said Koon.

“They offer the people that do well outside of poker the chance to do something they might find more enjoyable than $10,000 tournaments. “

There are downsides to the massive tournaments, however. In fact, there are poker experts who argue they are luckfests thanks to their short structure.

“There is a lot of variance obviously,” said Koon.

Still, if the fans love them and players keep entering, it seems the tours will continue to offer them.

PokerListings has teamed up with PokerAsiaPacific to provide official live updates for the 2013 WSOP APAC in Melbourne. You can follow the $50k High Roller live here.

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